Life at Hogwarts wasn’t always a barrel of laughs, with broken hearts, bullying and the whole Voldemort-coming-to-power thing taking turns to disrupt school life. Still, there were some incredible moments along the way – and more than a few near-misses. Sometimes we wish we could go back to their first year and warn our favourite students about what was to come…
Neville did not have the best start to his Hogwarts life. No wonder, really, when you consider his upbringing: parents tortured into insanity by Death Eaters, brought up by a formidable grandmother convinced he was ‘all Muggle’, his experiences with a great-uncle who liked to dangle him out of windows and push him off Blackpool pier... Magic must have seemed pretty terrifying, so it’s not really a surprise Neville arrived at Hogwarts so lacking in confidence.
All of which made him a prime target for the bullying Draco Malfoy. It was heartbreaking when we saw Neville struggling with Malfoy’s sneering assertion that he wasn’t brave enough to be in Gryffindor.
How we wish we could tell Neville how wrong Malfoy was. From nervously standing up to his friends at the end of the first year to running the resistance during Hogwarts’ post-Dumbledore years and, finally, his epic takedown of Voldemort’s snake, there is absolutely no doubt that Neville was a true Gryffindor – and a pretty badass one, at that.
When Harry found himself in Borgin and Burkes at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets, he hid from the Malfoys in a cupboard that turned out to be the twin of Hogwarts’ broken Vanishing Cabinet. Malfoy would later use those cabinets to invite the Death Eaters into Hogwarts, beginning the battle that saw Dumbledore die. Harry also saw Malfoy studying a cursed opal necklace that would later seriously injure Katie Bell.
If only we could have told Harry what those objects would go on to do. Maybe the Ministry could have raided Borgin and Burkes and seen them destroyed. Except who are we kidding? With patrons like Lucius Malfoy, nobody would have wanted to believe it.
Still, Lucius Malfoy was nervous enough to sell some of his own Dark objects to Mr Borgin – and it was during that same shopping trip that Voldemort’s old school diary found its way into Ginny Weasley’s hands. THAT particular Horcrux, Harry destroyed with a Basilisk fang in the Chamber of Secrets, but how we wish we could have told Harry to watch out for a couple more.
First there was Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, which Harry perched carelessly on top of a statue in the Room of Hidden Things, while attempting to hide his Half-Blood Prince-annotated copy of Advanced Potion-Making.
Then, even more maddeningly, there was the locket casually tossed aside during the clearing of Grimmauld Place. Rescued by Kreacher, stolen by Mundungus Fletcher and subsequently acquired by Umbridge: if we could only have told them to STOP CHUCKING STUFF AWAY, it would have saved a lot of time during their Horcrux hunt. It may even have meant Dumbledore not having to go through all that health-weakening stuff in the cave. What a thought.
Okay, Ron. There were a few occasions when we wanted to shout at him – and the others sometimes too, to be fair – but the way he sort-of asked Hermione to the Yule Ball was right up there.
‘Hermione, Neville’s right – you are a girl…’ is not the way to anyone’s heart, and to compound this insensitivity by refusing to believe Hermione had already accepted someone else’s invitation was… Well, let’s just say we can see why Hermione went on to accuse Ron of having the emotional range of a teaspoon.
We’d have liked to step in and tell Ron to sort himself out; maybe then he’d have avoided all that Krum jealousy, the Lavender debacle, being attacked by twittering birds and Hermione’s ill-advised date with Cormac McLaggen. Oh, Ron.
We’re not sure if knowing this would have actually solved anything, but the fact that Aberforth Dumbledore was working a few miles away from his brother’s school would surely have been interesting to know. Imagine what secrets Aberforth might have been encouraged to reveal about the enigmatic Albus! And how knowing he was there might have impacted Harry, especially when Dumbledore was banished from Hogwarts, or even in the dark months after the professor’s death.
On second thoughts – Aberforth might have been a member of the Order of the Phoenix, but his relationship with his brother was pretty complicated. So, maybe that’s a connection better left alone…